UAE Rugby performance manager Apollo Perelini announces his 25-man squad for Asia Rugby Championship Division II series later this month
Former dual code rugby star names strong squad for series in Uzbekistan, with the UAE aiming to seal promotion to Division I.
by Matt Jones
2nd May 2016
Dubai Exiles' Charlie Sargent has capped a fine season with a UAE call-up
Ryno Fourie treasures every opportunity he has to represent his “second home” of the UAE and believes it’s about time they brought home some silverware.
The South African was yesterday named in UAE performance manager Apollo Perelini’s 25-man squad for the Asia Rugby Championship (ARC) series taking place in Uzbekistan later this month.
The UAE will try to go a step further than they did a year ago and earn promotion from Division II to Division I as they slowly inch themselves back towards Asia rugby’s top table.
The ARC replaced the old Asian Five Nations in 2015 and saw the UAE compete in Division II having been relegated from Division I via a 30-13 defeat to Singapore a year earlier.
They performed admirably last year, defeating Thailand and Chinese Taipei, but agonisingly missed out on promotion following a narrow 20-19 loss to hosts Malaysia.
Jebel Ali Dragons’ Imad Reyal will bring craft to the back line
Fourie says this year’s squad is determined not to miss out again.
“I have been involved in the international circuit for a long time and feel confident that this will be the year to bring back some silverware,” said the 34-year-old Jebel Ali Dragons full-back.
“There is a nice buzz among the players. Every year the competition in the clubs and players is improving which is definitely a step in the right direction for UAE rugby.
“Apollo had some tough decisions to make this year in selecting 25 players as everyone at training is quality and all played Premiership rugby. I think he has selected the best possible team to represent us in Uzbekistan.”
Fourie first pulled on the UAE jersey in 2011 and is one of several players picked after impressive performances for the national sevens team in the Asia Rugby Sevens Series (ARSS) during the last 12 months.
Abu Dhabi Saracens No8 Jaen Botes made his UAE debut on last year’s tour
“It has always been a honor for me to play for the UAE, from the start, since 2011,” added Fourie.
“I am passionate about the game and will treasure every moment and opportunity to represent my second home.
“A lot of the sevens players have also pushed on from the last tour to play 15s, with the likes of Niall Statham, Imad Reyal, Jaen Botes, Ian Overton and myself having built good friendships on and off the field.”
Fellow Dragon Statham will lead the team in their semi-final tie against the Uzbeks on May 18 and hopefully into the final three days later against either Guam or Thailand after being named captain by Perelini, something he did during the ARSS.
The Scotsman, like Fourie, is also confident of success.
“I’m delighted to be selected and it’s a huge honour to captain both sides,” said the 30-year-old flanker.
“There are some great players in the side so it’s a privilege to lead them, I’m really confident we can achieve promotion.”
Abu Dhabi Harlequins’ lynchpin Ben Bolger will act as vice captain in what will be his first foray into international rugby with the UAE.